Posted by Elaine Magliaro
As a former public school educator, I have been extremely concerned about the efforts to privatize public schools in this country, the mania for standardized testing, the demands for more and more charter schools, and the claim by many school reformers that all of our public schools are failing. Here’s an article and a video that speak to my concerns about what is happening in this country in the name of school reform.
Excerpt from ProfitShip Learning (The Progressive):
A top rightwing think tank has devoted more than $30 million to spread the message that public education is failing. According to a report by One Wisconsin Now, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is a major underwriter of this propaganda effort. Bradley spent millions on shoddy research, media punditry, and a lobbying campaign to promote the idea that public schools have failed and to push school vouchers and other privatization schemes as the “solution”.
Large, national charter-school chains have been major of the beneficiaries of the campaign to fix “failing” public schools. Among them, Rocketship––“a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty,” according to a report by economist Gordon Lafer for the Economic Policy Institute.
Not all charter schools are bad. Some offer high-quality, alternative models classrooms that are enriching for kids. But over the last decade, the charter school movement has morphed from a small, community-based effort to foster alternative education into a vehicle for privatizing public education, pushed by free-market foundations, big education-management companies, and profit-seekers looking for a way to cash in on public-education funds.
Profitship! Cashing In On Public Schools
Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) said that Rocketship “uses computer programs to teach children for a significant portion of the day, and eschews ‘extras’ like school librarians, art, gym, and social studies, which further reduce staff costs.” She added that the “combination of real teachers and online programs, dubbed ‘blended learning,’ is the fastest-growing sector of the burgeoning charter school industry.”
In his report, Lafer wrote, “The call for public schools to be replaced by such tech-heavy, teacher-light operations comes from some of the most powerful actors in local and national politics.”
Conniff added that privatizers and their advocates “claim that charters and schemes like blended learning will increase students’ test scores…” Yet, she continued that research has shown “that charter schools, on average, perform no better than public schools.”
ProfitShip Learning (The Progressive)